Condo laws up for review Owners at Milford’s Great Brook speak in Concord

CONCORD – Three bills in the state House of Representatives could change the way condominiums are governed and limit some of the power of condominium boards.

One of the bills would set up a dispute resolution board, which could help the Great Brook situation in Milford, said freshman state Rep. Kermit Williams, of Wilton, one of the bills’ sponsors.

The other two bills would require licensing of property managers and would change who pays for fees in court cases involving condo associations. Under current state law, Williams said, residents always have to pay the legal costs after a dispute with their homeowners’ association, which “seems pretty unfair to me.”

The proposed law says the prevailing party is entitled to costs and attorney fees.

Some of the unit owners at the 96-unit Great Brook condominium complex have been feuding with property manager Cal Davison, and the owners want to recall at least one condo board member who supports Davison. Owners say she has an overly aggressive habit of fining them for minor rule infractions and then punishes people who complain.

They petitioned for a board recall meeting, scheduled for Feb. 10.

Davison has said that late charges and other costs that are levied are based upon Great Brook’s bylaws and the New Hampshire Condominium Act, and a fine schedule that was adopted and published by the board. Those who complain, she has said, are trying “to do harm.”

Williams called Great Brook “an ideal candidate for arbitration.”

Last week, Williams attended a meeting of the Great Brook board and condo owners, as did state Rep. Ruth Heden,
of Milford.

“There is certainly a lot of emotion and some missteps on both sides” in the dispute, he said.

Williams is a member of the committee looking into condo association laws. Legislators are unhappy with the current law because it only regulates the condo developer and the first owners of the units, he said. Great Brook was built in the early 1980s, so the laws don’t apply.

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Bureau has been fielding calls from unhappy condo owners, Williams said, and state attorneys have no laws they can enforce.

The House will likely vote on the three bills in February or March.

Some of the Great Brook unit owners went to Concord last week to testify before the House Study Committee. Lawyers had also arranged for Great Brook’s financial records to be viewed by the unit owners at the Wadleigh Memorial Library in Milford on Monday, Jan. 20.

Unit owner Karen Nestor said in an email that on Jan. 29, there will be a court hearing for an injunction to prohibit Davison and her company, Cardiff Management of Brookline, from aggressive fining and to block her presence at the Feb. 10 recall meeting.

At the Jan. 16 Great Brook board meeting, attended by about 30 owners, board members and Davison fielded questions and complaints on a wide range of topics, including the condition of the complex’s swimming pool, Davison’s contract and communication difficulties.

The meeting was heated at times, but everyone agreed that web-based notices would go far to improve communications.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 304, or kcleveland@
cabinet.com.